Having entertained audiences for 25 years, UniverSoul have gone on to diversify and redefine the art form of circus by celebrating the complexity of Caribbean and African culture. With cast members from South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Cuba, the US, Guinea, Gabon, and Ethiopia, UniverSoul are renowned for producing shows with an international vibe. Having built up a reputation for their fusion of the traditional and the contemporary – UniverSoul contribute to Hip Hop culture with their championing of the brightest dance talent and showcasing of bold tricks. Company founder and former tour promotor Cedric Walker tells us more about what to expect from the company’s European Premier.
This will be the company’s European premiere, having enjoyed success in the US for 25 years. What can European audiences expect from the show?
The UniverSoul Circus experience is one like no other! Audiences can expect an explosion of energy, phenomenal talent, comedy, theatrics, awesome music, chilling thrills, uncontained fun and EXPECT TO BE PART OF THE SHOW! It’s like a celebration. Expect to be singing and dancing and joining in the fun from your seat and sometimes also in center ring with the performers.
Founded 25 years ago, you’d founded UniverSoul having noticed a gap in the market in terms of Circus Troupes celebrating African and Caribbean culture. What has been your greatest achievement with the company?
My greatest achievement has been creating a show that brings together people of various backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities including multigenerational families from around the world. I’m proud of the fact that our audiences are entertained and inspired, regardless of their cultural background.
Prior to founding UniverSoul, you were a concert promoter, having worked with some of R ‘n’ B, Hip Hop and Soul’s finest. How did you find the transition from promoter to company founder?
This has been an amazing journey. The jump from promoter to company founder was an interesting process but was ultimately my destiny. Being the company founder gave me a larger platform to create and promote live entertainment experiences for different audiences around the world.
Your 25 years of spearheading the hip hop circus movement has seen you recently inducted into the Circus Ring of Fame. How, if it has, has the perception of circus changed?
The UniverSoul Circus is more than a circus, it’s a lifestyle. We have redefined the term circus for a new generation! We maintain phenomenal circus artistry, yet infuse hip-hop, theatrics, comedy, and audience participation to create a show like none other. When the lights go down, and the music starts, the people of Scotland will notice the difference. Your perception of what circus can be will be changed forever.
Each show consists of a selection of circus troupes ranging in many Circus disciplines. How do you choose who makes the line up?
We select only the top ranked performers from around the world. I personally travel to virtually every continent to find just the right talent for our show. One of the things I wanted to do when I first created UniverSoul Circus was to provide a platform for people of color and others, who lacked the opportunity to perform on the world stage. As the circus evolved over the years, we have been able to attract the best talent from every continent in the world.
At present, what schemes within the US are available to help train the circus stars of tomorrow? Do you offer any training opportunities?
The UniverSoul Circus provides training opportunities for talent in the US, as well (in collaboration with some of the best circus schools in various parts of the world. Our training process is very rigorous. It takes a special kind of performer to make it under our big top.
What advice would you give to aspiring circus artists and performance art company owners?
My best advice would be to follow your dreams no matter how difficult the journey because with hard work and perseverance, you will arrive at your desired destination and be successful.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
UniverSoul Circus’ Hip Hop Under the Big Top will be showing from Saturday 4th until Saturday 25th August 2018 at the Underbelly, Edinburgh. For more information on the production, visit here…